Book: Am I normal yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Page count: 434
Synopsis: “All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?”
I enjoyed this read, it was everything a younger me wishes that I had read. For a contemporary, coming-of-age story, it covered college friendships, the stresses of preparing for uni, wanting to find love and struggling with your mental health. It is some of my favourite tropes all put into one story, which rounded out the character of Evie and made me feel so connected to the book.
Holly has such an amazing ability to write characters that feel so real and I can connect with so easily, making it such an interesting contemporary read. I was so emotionally invested in her story and desperately wanted her to reach out and get the help that she needed. It was definitely something that I can relate to, not knowing how to tell people how you’re feeling.
I don’t know loads about OCD, so I am not able to talk confidently about whether it is good representation or not – but I felt that it opened my eyes to the more finite details of how someone could suffer from it. I also thought that on the mental health front, it was really interesting to see her anger at people who loosely throw around terms like OCD, as a way of describing a quirk or feeling. Her writing style feels breezy and chatty, which helps when talking about topics like this because it just feels like a friend talking to you.
Personally, I felt it was effectively written to show how your mind can take something little and blow it out of proportion – and how your thoughts and feelings can escalate over time for relapses. Her writing tackles these elements of mental health in a really dynamic way, without ever making it feel too heavy or dragging the plot.
The characterization is so great, that I found myself so angry at Guy – probably because I’ve been treated similarly in the past by random boys. I just wanted Evie to see through him and not fall for his tricks, but she just desperately wanted to be loved. She fell into the mindset that if someone loved her for who she is, then she might be ‘fixed’. Of course, she goes through great development and learns that it’s not the way forward. The family dynamics and friendships all felt real and relatable.
Of course, one of the best bits of the book is the feminism club that they started – the Spinster Club. It was great to see the topics that they chose to discuss and the terms that they brought up – some of them that I’d never heard of before and it got me thinking. I haven’t read a book in ages that made me question a lot of feminism values in such a witty and contemporary way – it was really affective.
Holly covers so many important issues but does it in a witty form, so it never comes across as forceful or the main focus of the story. It’s a great book that looks into friendships and the nature of what it means to be normal – everyone takes things at different paces, and there is no right or wrong way to recover.